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Wisteria Enfleurage

Wisteria Enfleurage
Wisteria is one of my favourite plants. In all season, it has grace and character. The delicate, fragrant and decorative racemes of purple flowers in the spring against the grey branches, followed by copious green and shade-giving foliage it the summertime, changing leaves in the autumn, and even in the winter, when it's dormant, it manages to keep its beauty with the sparse grey branches and trunk that curl around whatever it's climbing on.
Wisteria Harvest
I planted my wisteria in the summer, to give shade to my eastern window, which is bringing in too much heat in the summer months into the Pilates studio (and there are plenty of those where I am now). In the winter, when it's barren, it will allow the gentle winter sunrays to get through the east window and bring light and warmth to the room.
Wisteria
I was thrilled when the first clusters of buds started showing - but soon enough, there were nasty black beetles with white dots, the same ones that munched away at my roses last year - literally feasting on this and wrecking havoc! To top that damage off, a couple of days of dry east wind, and most of the flowers were gone. I was able to set up about two recharges of enfleurage trays, and it looked promising, but then turned kinda sour and musty smelling. My only consolation is that next year there will be more. And also there is still an abundance of sweet pea flowers to enfleurage, as well as broom. So I will have lots fo sweet smells to play with very soon. Not all is lost!
Wisteria Enfleurage
Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) belongs to the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family, and has flowers like all the other legumes, resembling butterflies and often fragrant, and even edible.

Please note that wisteria contains a toxic glycoside in all parts to he plant - wisterin. It will causes all fun digestive nightmares, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache. So don't eat it and make sure children don't get tempted to taste it!

The flowers are often purple (though white varieties also exist), with a yellow and white "landing strip" for guiding the insects to the reproductive organs.

Wisteria Enfleurage
As for the scent itself, it is hard to describe, and in my opinion also not exactly as distinctive as, say, sweet pea. I find  the one growing this year at my garden it to be extremely similar to ylang ylang, with pronounced clove-like scent. It has a lovely creaminess, however I am lost for words describing exactly what is special about it. I remember the ones growing in Vancouver as having a soft-focus personality, more powdery yet also heady. I do not recall them being so clove-like at all. Bo Jensen describes the wisteria scent being "a pleasant, mild, warm and creamy sweetness with rosy, peppery and spicy nuances", and cites Joulain et al. research with the key molecules as being beta-chromenes 7-hydroxy-6-methoxy-4H-1-benzopyran and 6,7-dimethoxy-4H-1-benzopyran, as well as 3-hydroxy-4-phenyl-2-butanone or phenylacetoin.

Poucher's one and only formula for Glycine, No. 1086 (Wistaria) from the rather archaic 1959  edition is spelled with an "a" instead of "e" and includes:
180 Hawthorn, Synthetic
50 Eugenol
100 Methyl iphone
100 Hydroxy citronallal 
70 Ylang oil, Bourbon
80 Rose centifolia, synthetic
190 Jasmine, synthetic
100 Terpineol
40 Coumarin
60 Heliotropin
30 Musk ketone
--------
1000

Best Smelling Garbage in the World
Here you see my post-enfleurage flowers of both sweet peat and wisteria. In other words: Trash. I have not only the best smelling garbage but also the best looking!
Enfleurage Tray
Next year is a blank slate... And I hope I get a better, more robust and abundant harvest, and also that it wouldn't turn on the tray. In the meantime, I'm actually feeling inspired to try and recreate it myself with my current arsenal of extraits from enfleurage. Wish me luck...

Sweetpea Enfleurage

Sweetpea Enfleurage
This spring has been unusually cold and rainy, which meant longer sweetpea flower season. Despite many delays between rain showers, waiting for the flowers to dry, I was able to collect impressive numbers of flowers for several recharges of the enfleurage tray. I think this is by far the strongest enfleurage I've been able to make. I am waiting for some more flowers to dry tomorrow and collect some more flowers for another couple (or more) of recharges before I move this into the alcohol extraction phase. 

Although the fresh sweetpea flowers hav ea very delicate and slightly lemony notes, the recharged enfleurage brings forward some more almonds notes. I think it will be really delicious. 

Sweetpea Enfleurage
Meanwhile, I have been able to make a very meagre amount of wisteria flowers blossoms, because the nasty beetles have eaten most of them. And I didn't have that many clusters to begin with. I'm afraid this was not a successful harvest - but it's the first season for this vine (I only planted it a few months ago). So next year will be better. 

With my enfleurage skills slowly picking up, I am sure I will be able to make broom enfleurage this year. Although it's just another one of the same family as sweetpea, spiny broom and wisteria - each has a different aroma and its own value as a perfume material. The spiny broom was super frustrating as something always went wrong and it is very about intense (and painful) to pick it. After I tried the second time and finding tiny bug droppings everywhere, I decided to give up on that botanical, at least for the time being. Way too much work and very little results. Really looking forward to work with the other fabaceae enfleurage results and composing with them though! 

Narcissus Enfleurage, Part II

Narcissus Enfleurage
Yipee! Lucky for me, despite the low numbers of blooming narcissus bulbs in my garden this year, the resultant enfleurage from my meagre one-charge-batch is highly fragrant and gorgeous!
If you can imagine me doing a happy dance, this is exactly my reaction to this surprising success. It takes a long time to grow, pick and enfleurage the flowers. And then the fat needs to be soaked in alcohol and left to macerate for several weeks. Today I've finally strained it. The result is a filtered extrait (the term for the enfleurage fragrant tincture, before removal of the alcohol to produce an absolute - a stage I decided to forego due to my low yield and technical limitation), which I promptly added to Narkiss perfume, adding another layer of authentic narcissus to the absolute from Narcisse de Montainges from France that is already in there.

Spiny Broom Enfleurage Experiment

Spiny Broom
The spiny broom has been early to rise this year, creating yet another challenge in realizing my dream to extract it. It is still cold, rainy and I can't for the life of me figure out when is the best time to harvest this thorn. I did one harvest, and discovered yet again that the scent is too faint, perhaps the flowers are also a bit too old and worn-out. The ones I picked which were fragrant lost their odour by the time I got to the studio to place them in the fats for enfleurage extraction. It is becoming rapidly more evident to me that knowledge of the exact harvest time is key to success in enfleurage. I did a small trial, but the scent did not stick around at all. Considering the painstaking process and how much pain is involved (if you're not careful and get stung by the thorns it literally hurts) - I think it would rather wait till later in the spring when the non-spiny (read: thornless) broom is in bloom. Wish me luck please!

Spiny Broom Enfleurage Experiment


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